Protestors want 'carnival not confrontation' at Forbes conference

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

The 30A network has said that it wants to create a carnival atmosphere while protesting at the Forbes Global CEO conference. The protest, which starts on August 30, is expected to attract up to 2,000 protesters. Similar events in the past often had instances of violent confrontations between police and some of the activists. The 30A network is a loose affiliation of groups and individuals co-ordinating the protest.

30A spokesman Bruce Knobloch, of the International Socialist Organisation, made the call for a peaceful protest in a press release last week.

"We want a safe community action showing that people in Sydney oppose Howard¹s plan for a US-style wages system, the war in Iraq and his kow-towing to global corporate chiefs. We pose no threat to the Opera House or the millionaire delegates, or to other users of east Circular Quay," Mr Knobloch said.

The conference will be held at the Sydney Opera House. The Forbes website says that at the event "senior figures from the world's leading companies and institutions will discuss the best ways to nurture and capitalize on innovation and reveal the latest global trends." It was recently announced that George Bush Sr will be attending the conference, along with former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Prime Minister John Howard, and former NSW Premier Bob Carr.

Mr Knobloch described the attendees as "a few hundred neo-conservative corporate chiefs".

The protesters have been denied access to the Opera House forecourt for the duration of the conference. Mr Knobloch believes that this decision is unjustified. He also accused the police of deliberately creating the conditions for confrontation.

"The police seem intent on creating chaos and confrontation, which is the last thing we need. We've urged police to build a barrier in front of the Opera House proper and to allow us to use the public space in the forecourt. By pushing us out into the CBD the police are going to create problems for commuters and business owners," he said.

30A protestors this week organised a media conference outside Surry Hills Police Station, requesting a meeting to negotiate an agreement. According to an article on Sydney Indymedia, police at the station were unable to discuss the issue, but told 30a representatives that they would be contacted to organise a meeting.

"Minimising the protesters right to peacefully rally dramatically increases police powers and strikes at the heart of protesters' democratic right to peaceful assembly," the article said.

ASIO has assessed the conference to be "medium risk", and this has been used by the police and government to justify the increased security.

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